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Effect Of Social Distancing Efforts Not Yet Known

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March 23, 2020 - In a White House briefing Saturday, President Trump and other officials said that testing for COVID-19 had expanded. At the same time, they said they did not know yet how much of an effect social distancing efforts are having on its spread.

As of Monday, the nation is at the 8-day mark in the 15-day Stop the Spread effort, which asked people to not gather in groups of more than 10, avoid restaurants and bars and to and stay home when sick. Since the guidelines were issued, many states and cities have shut down bars and restaurants.

"We know we are clearly having an effect but can't quantify it now,'' as that takes time to analyze said Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The administration has said it will reevaluate the measures after the 15 days are over.

Pence said testing for the virus is “expanding rapidly.” More than 195,000 who have had symptoms have been tested, he said, and that number does not include county hospitals or health care labs." The country has more than 32,000 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

On Saturday, the FDA issued the emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 test that can give results in 45 minutes. Cepheid, the test maker, expects to roll it out by March 30. It can be used on more than 23,000 Cepheid automated systems already in use worldwide,the company said.

As for who needs a test, Pence said: "If you don't have symptoms don’t do a test. It is another way we can be sure we are preserving resources that our health care workers need."

Pence said they were also working to address shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment for health care workers.

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White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, March 21, 2020.

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